“The responsibility of journalists is to ascertain, through objectivity, that peace is not disturbed,” - Professor Cecil Blake
Further to the communique issued at the conclusion of the Consultative Meeting of Communication Scholars and Practitioners on the 2015 general and presidential elections and national security issues held at the covenant university guest house, Ota, Ogun State, on January 30, 2015.
Reporters had a follow up interview with the convener, Professor Cecil Blake, to ascertain how far the group has gone in the dissemination of the information contained in the communique to concerned bodies, organizations and parastatals. There was also the need to ascertain the relevance of the consultative meeting and its role in the face of the ongoing political campaigns.
Speaking to reporters on the issue, Professor Blake said, “The relevance is very high. We have a situation where violence takes place during political campaigns. We have to be very careful with objectivity in reportage. Violent eruptions are taking place and some of the political ads right now are not exactly promoting peace, in fact most of them are very provocative. The onus is on Journalists really, to see how best they could manage their reporting without contributing to creating tension. The manner in which these incidents are captured as well as the manner, in which they are portrayed on television, could create discomfort in some quarters. Journalists really have to be on their toes over the next few days to ascertain that they do not contribute to any kind of problems that will disrupt the peace of this Nation.
“It is important that Journalists do not create a situation where promulgation of violence will result. The responsibility of journalists in this particular circumstance is to ascertain, through objectivity, that peace is not disturbed. I am saying this because we have too many experiences in Africa; where electioneering campaigns and the manner in which they are being covered by journalists have led to the exacerbation of problems and violence, rather than trying to communicate in such a way that people could really get at the truth about events,” he stated.
Professor Blake further said that the same responsibility applies to those who own media outfits. He said both the Print and Electronic Media need to be involved in creating awareness among Journalists of the need for caution in reportage in other to create a peaceful and conducive environment in the forth-coming elections.
He said violence and unrests during the forth-coming elections and even after can only be contained if Journalists uphold the codes that guide their practice. He enjoined Media House operators to avoid becoming tools of political manipulation of information targeted towards creating political factions and animosity. “They need to be aware of the dangers involved in using words and imageries to incite the polity,” he emphasized.